Fish tacos great eats for gatherings

Let’s talk tacos. Growing up in California, Wednesday was taco day on the school cafeteria menu. No brown-bagging it for me that day. I was a taco fanatic.

No wonder I was surprised when I married a Minnesotan and discovered that the humble taco was as unusual to him as other West Coast favorites such as artichokes, pomegranates and avocados. Wasting no time, I introduced him and his Midwest friends to beef tacos — not too spicy — and they were an instant hit.

Fast-forward to three kids and dozens of taco shells later, making and eating tacos together on weekends has become a family culinary tradition.

Nowadays, we’ve embraced the fish taco trend. We fill warmed corn tortillas with fresh, seasoned white fish or alternate with salmon or grilled shrimp. Stuffed with shredded cabbage and topped with what’s on hand and a squeeze of lime, it’s a tasty meal on a weeknight after work or when friends drop by to watch a game or two during this month’s March Madness tournament.

Fish tacos are a slam-dunk prep-wise, because most ingredients can be readied in advance. Kids can help you chop, stir and arrange toppings in serving bowls on a buffet table. They also might want to make simple handwritten signs on folded index cards to identify the contents.

BASIC GRILLED FISH TACOS

Makes 12

1 1/2 pounds tilapia, cod, halibut or catfish fillets

1 1/2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil

1 teaspoon ground cumin and/or chili powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups finely shredded cabbage

12 tortillas of your choice

2 limes, cut in wedges

Extra favorite toppings such as sour cream, salsa, sriracha sauce, radish slices, chopped scallions, sliced avocado, Cotija or feta cheese, snipped fresh cilantro, etc.

1. Brush fish with oil and season with cumin and/or chili powder, salt and pepper. Grill on medium heat. Transfer fish to a warm platter and separate into bite-size chunks.

2. Meanwhile, heat tortillas in oven, or char on grill rack on each side until warmed and softened. Wrap in a clean towel to keep warm.

3. Fill tortillas with fish, cabbage, a squeeze of lime juice and additional toppings to taste.

Cook’s notes:

• Instead of grilling, cook seasoned fish in a frying pan with 1 tablespoon oil until golden.

• Substitute white fish with grilled seasoned salmon or medium-sized shrimp.